So the organisers of Knutsford Royal May Day want want to 'move with the times’ do they?

I'm not surprised. Over recent years, the May Day selection process for the May Queen and Maids of Honour has attracted criticism from a number of sources – including me – some Guardian readers and parents of girls who failed to make the cut.

The main objection was that the process was said to be old fashioned, demeaning and outdated.

A couple of weeks ago, the committee told the Guardian: “The May Day is steeped in tradition, and whilst this is an important element we know everyone loves and wants to preserve, we felt it was time for some progression and wanted to bring the process a little more up-to-date.”

So what are these radical changes then?

The first one involves the application for the role of May Queen.

In the past this has involved each candidate writing a letter to confirm their eligibility for selection, stating the number of years they have been involved in the May Day and the parade characters they have been in previous parades.

The criteria state that all candidates must live within the boundaries of Knutsford Town Council, be aged 11,12 or 13 by February 1, 2019, have been a candidate for Maid of Honour and have taken part in the May Day twice as a character or dancer, since being a candidate for Maid of Honour.

While the criteria remains the same all candidates will be able to complete an application form that can be downloaded from the May Day’s website,, rather than writing a letter.

“We felt this would be more user-friendly and help to standardise the process,” said the committee.

“It should also act as a useful prompt for those unsure what to include.”

But it's the changes to the actual selection evening that surprised me a little.

All candidates will be given a name card rather than a number and will stand in a line rather than walking around the room.

And only the female members of the committee will vote.

Additionally each candidate will in turn be asked a short question, which can be found on the application form.

Similarly the candidates for Maid of Honour will also be given a name card, will line up rather than walk, and again only female committee members will vote.

This year the committee has also introduced a Golden Ticket, which will be presented to unsuccessful Maid of Honour candidates.

This will give them and a friend early entry into the character selection.

The committee added: “We are sure members of the public will welcome these changes. We want to move with the times but feel gradual change is best and hope to make further improvements year on year.”

Well, actually, no.

I think radical change was needed to bring the whole process into the 21st century.

And it would appear I am not on my own.

Reader Phoebe Howman said: “Great that changes are finally being made – way overdue – but I still don’t think this goes far enough to get rid of the humiliation felt by girls who have applied unsuccessfully to be May Queen.”

Susie Lee-Kilgariff said: “It’s fantastic to hear the committee has listened to feedback from the town and has started on the path to modernisation. Not giving the girls numbers and making them parade round is a great start.

“I’d like to see the committee publish the criteria on which they choose the characters next.

“They need to be able to make the selection based on contribution to the community rather than how you look.”

Nathalie Lacroix-Goulbourn said: “The real problem is that the May Queen and maids of honour have always been selected based on criteria related to physical appearance.

“Allowing them to talk and answer questions about their interest in becoming May Queen or Maid of Honour will rebalance the bias and old-fashioned approach to selection.

“I’m not sure the new proposal is putting enough emphasis on allowing their personality to shine through.”

John Barlow said: “If the town is to be seen as progressive, surely a competition such as this should be completely reimagined, open to boys and girls equally and based purely on achievement without parading, line-ups, names or photos on applications.”

The fact remains that selection still seems to be based on appearance and the ability to smile and surely the girls of Knutsford have more to offer than that.